- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
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After closing out the 2009 America's Giving Challenge late last year, which raised more than $2.1 million from 105,000 donations for nonprofits (in just 30 days) we made a commitment to conducting in-depth research to better understand the impact and implications of the Challenge for the nonprofit sector and for others interested in implementing or taking part in a similar effort.
Our commitment is to make transparent the findings we have so that together we can learn both from what worked and what has not and identify the best paths to fully leveraging new technologies and new forms of social media as they emerge.
We once again asked Allison Fine and Beth Kanter, who conducted research on the 2007-2008 Giving Challenge, along with their Zoetica colleague Geoff Livingston, to evaluate last year’s Challenge. If you've been keeping an eye on our blog and Twitter over the past several weeks, you've seen that we’ve taken a different approach to the research this time around. In addition to closely analyzing data and conducting interviews with participants, Allison and Beth have been conducting “living” case studies via our blog on some of the AGC winners and cultivated a fantastic public discussion to inform their conclusions on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to leveraging social networks to drive engagement and action.
When we, along with our partners at PARADE and Causes, decided to do the 2009 America’s Giving Challenge, we felt strongly that continued momentum on the social media front would represent an opportunity for nonprofits to raise funds and recruit new friends, and yet we didn’t know what to expect given the economic downturn and the continued bad news coming out of surveys around charitable giving.
Leveraging the lessons we learned through the research conducted by Allison and Beth following our 2007-2008 Giving Challenge, and considering the sweeping changes in social media adoption that had happened since, we took a different approach to the 2009 America’s Giving Challenge. During the 30 days leading up to the Challenge, we helped both individuals and nonprofits “gear up” with a series of social media tutorials. We also simplified participation by having one portal for participation, we shortened the time period of the challenge and introduced multiple daily prizes. In the end, we were thrilled by the enthusiasm of the Challenge participants and the incredible results.
Today, we’re very excited to share with you the culmination of their work, in an easy to digest, topline report of the key findings. You’ll see that some of the findings are consistent with what we found following our first Giving Challenge – such as the effectiveness of personal appeals and the importance of thanking donors extensively. However, you’ll also see the effect that the evolution of social media has had, both in developing winning strategies through the effective use of video and a more significant focus on leveraging their online networks through a variety of tools.
The research also takes a look at the results and implications moving forward through the lens of the numerous contests and challenges that have taken place over the last year that follow in much the same spirit of the Giving Challenge. We’re excited to see others from across sectors are innovating and experimenting with these formats to find the right formula that works for helping both individuals support the causes they care about, and for nonprofits to raise awareness and essential funds. As technology continues to evolve and new tools emerge, we look forward to seeing what is in store for 2010 and beyond.